Pearl Jam at the O2 Arena
Seattle grunge rockers Pearl Jam can sell out pretty much any venue, and that is true for tonight’s show at the O2 Arena.
Setting off the performance with minimalist composer Philip Glass’s solemn Metamorphosis Two, the band’s entrance onstage is accompanied by screams of elation from the fans. Oceans – taken from their platinum-selling album Ten – sees Eddie Vedder’s voice back on top form after last month’s cancelled gig. The mood picks up with Go, the group undoubtedly in their element, rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard riffing incredibly fast. The frontman’s voice is occasionally overpowered by screeching electric guitars which can be heard particularly in the heavier tracks like Do the Evolution and Whipping, though that is expected in such a vast space.
The lead singer shows gratitude to fans, exclaiming that they will “play like there’s no tomorrow,” then moving into softer numbers Given to Fly and In Hiding (Yield, 1997), tracks reminiscent of Vedder’s solo material. After introducing a member of the technical team, the ensemble give a rocking rendition of Even Flow followed by a humorous dialogue on Trump, a fitting inflated baby floating outside the venue. Daughter, a song dedicated to the women of the world, sees the camera zoom to a shirt which reads “Every Mother Counts.”
Jeremy is an angst-ridden nostalgic highlight, powerful with the recent frequent American school shootings and coaxing out a sea of raised arms from the crowd. After fans sing Happy Birthday to Gossard, the band partake in a comical cake fight, switching then to a folk ambience with Victoria Williams’ Crazy Mary, organ player Boom Gaspar delivering an excellent solo followed by an improvised jam session with McCready, psychedelic and funky. During Porch, the vocalist approaches audience members, holding hands and hugging them, a touching gesture.
The five-piece are quick to return for an encore, this time playing Elderly Woman Behind the Counter to spectators sat directly behind the stage, while Alive is aptly full of life. By the time the group spring another cheeky surprise curtain call the venue is half-empty, but it seems the musicians possess enough energy for several hours more, and they perform Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.
The essential deep grunge notes of the band are lost in such a cavernous venue, but the set is saved by hits Alive, Even Flow, and Jeremy; there is a reason why Ten is still the ensemble’s most successful best-selling album to date, and tonight’s show reiterates that. The performance would have fared well with Vedder’s tracks as well as more of their favourites, though it can’t be denied that, for the most part, the alternative rockers put on an electrifying show.
Photo: Alyssa Fried
For further information and future events visit Pearl Jam’s website here.
Watch the video for Jeremy here: